Leo Townsend worked at Dell Publishing in New York before arriving in Hollywood in 1935. His first script to be filmed was It Started With Eve in 1941. He followed this with Seven Sweethearts (1942), Chip Off the Old Block (1944), Can't Help Singing (1944), Night and Day (1946) and The Way With Women (1947).
In 1947 the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. The HUAC interviewed 41 people who were working in Hollywood. These people attended voluntarily and became known as "friendly witnesses". During their interviews they named several people who they accused of holding left-wing views.
One of those named, Bertolt Brecht, an emigrant playwright, gave evidence and then left for East Germany. Ten others: Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz,, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson and Alvah Bessie refused to answer any questions.
Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of congress and each was sentenced to between six and twelve months in prison.
Townsend, who had joined the Communist Party in 1943, was one of those named and was asked to appear before the HUAC. He was visited by the FBI and was shocked to discover that they had details of every party meeting he had attended. After consulting with his employers, Warner Brothers, he agreed to testify before the HUAC. On 18th September, 1951, he gave the names of thirty-seven people who he knew had been members of left-wing organizations.
The HUAC praised Townsend for his testimony and his name was removed from the blacklist. Other films that he was involved in included Dangerous Crossing (1943), White Feather (1955), Flight to Hong Kong (1956), Bikini Beach(1964), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965).
I called the FBI and I said, "I am a former member of the Communist Party" So two men came out to my home, and told them all I knew. I discovered they knew more about it than I did; they knew every meeting I went to, they knew who was there. The names I gave them were names they already knew - I wasn't revealing anything.
I feel that the purpose of this Committee is an investigative one so that the Congress of the United States may intelligently legislate in the field of national security. As a loyal American interested in that security, I feel I must place in the hands of this Committee whatever information I have.
Several years ago all of us fought with all our might against German and Italian fascism. Today there is a section of people who shut their eyes to Soviet fascism and if what I say here and if what this Committee does can help these people, I think this will show a large measure of success.
Alabaman Leo “Lefty” Townsend is not the same Leo Townsend who was once a Hollywood screenwriter and alleged Communist sympathizer in the 1950s.1 Nor is he the same Townsend as Ira “Texas” Townsend, a right-hander who pitched for the Boston Braves in 1920 and 1921. This Leo Townsend pitched in seven games in September 1920 for George Stallings’s seventh-place Braves, followed by one final game in May 1921. Arm trouble derailed his 1921 spring training battle with Johnny Cooney for Boston’s left-handed relief role, and would escort him out of professional baseball less than eighteen months later.
Leo Alphonse Townsend was born in Mobile, Alabama, on January 15, 1891,2 the youngest of the six children of George James Townsend and Mary A. (Manning) Townsend. His father died when Leo was nine. The earliest recording of Leo’s baseball exploits shows him pitching for the Mark Grey Recycling and Trash Company semipro team in Ohio around 1910. When not playing ball, he worked for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which ran up the Ohio River from Alabama to the St. Louis area. In 1912, the 21-year-old Townsend traveled with a Mobile semipro squad organized by local newspaperman E.V. O’Connor for a series against a Pensacola, Florida, team. Leo was hailed as “the strike out boy who never pitches a game in which he secures less than fifteen by the fan route.”3
The next spring, Leo was given a tryout by manager Mickey Finn and the Mobile Gulls of the Class A Southern Association, providing Townsend, “a Mobile boy, a chance to work out with the local bunch.”4 He didn’t stick with the Gulls, but “the semipro pitcher from Mobile joins Pensacola, with manager Finn having landed him the gig.”5 It took him a while to report, however, as he recovered from an injured hand suffered during Mobile’s spring training. Townsend pitched for the Snappers of the Class D Cotton States League. Baseball-Reference.com shows he posted a 6-0 record in 25 games for Pensacola, but there is documentation of his losing, 1-0, to Slim Love and the Selma (Alabama) Centralites on May 16 in the seven-inning opener of a twin bill.6 Leo finished the year with the Morristown (Tennessee) Jobbers of the Class D Appalachian League, where he went 6-1 in nine games, including a 5-0, two-hit shutout of the Rome (Georgia) Romans in late August.7
In spring training of 1914, Townsend was afforded another tryout with Mobile, now under the direction of manager Bris Lord. This time he stuck.8 Not only did he ‘stick,’ completing a meteoric rise “from the lots to a Class A league” in roughly one year,9 Townsend started off with a hot hand. The “small young pitcher” was “an entire puzzle” in a 2-0 shutout over Red Styles and New Orleans on May 1.10 In June, he was showered with multiple gifts from local newspapers and his prior employer, the M&O Railroad, all after the “Mobile southpaw” had been burning it up.11 In a ceremony at home plate, he was presented with a gold watch and chain a diamond-studded fob a diamond set pin, and a set of gold and diamond cuff buttons.12 Along with outfielders Elmer Miller and LaRue Kirby, he was hailed as manager Lord’s star rookies for 1914.13 As of mid-July, Townsend led the Southern Association in winning percentage at .733 with an 11-4 mark,14 before finishing at 17-12 for the second-place Gulls.
Before the 1915 season, “Lefty” Townsend held out before finally earning a salary increase from Mobile in early April.15 After compiling a 12-10 record by the end of July, he went home with a strained ligament in his left arm and was placed on the ineligible list.16
In February 1916, he announced his retirement from the game, with plans to go to Texas.17 He did wind up in the Lone Star State however, his announcement of hanging up his mitt was a bit premature. In April, Townsend signed with the San Antonio Bronchos of the Class B Texas League.18 Released in June after 10 games and a 2-4 mark, he signed with the New Orleans Pelicans of the Class A Southern Association, where he was 4-9. For the next three years Townsend bounced around Class A and B leagues with so-so results. A 29-year-old free agent in March 1920, he signed with the Charleston Palmettos of the Class C South Atlantic League.19 On May 6, he homered and tripled while scattering seven hits in a 12-3 win over Spartanburg and was given $52 by the adoring fans for the feat.20 In late June, Leo, the “Pals brilliant side whirler,” tossed a two-hit shutout over Orin “Lefty” Masters and the Augusta (Georgia) Georgians.21 Townsend was dubbed “the best southpaw in the league, even in the face of the formidable Masters.”22 After local boosters hosted a fish fry, Townsend, in his last appearance for Charleston, was shutting out the home Bamberg (South Carolina) squad in an exhibition, but rain cut the game short.23 He was selected to the “All-State” team after posting a 17-11 record with a 2.15 ERA over 31 games.24 In early September, the Boston Braves purchased Townsend.25
On September 8, Townsend made his major league debut for Boston against the New York Giants in the second game of a doubleheader loss. With his team down, 5-1, Townsend pitched a scoreless ninth inning for manager George Stallings, allowing but a single to opposing pitcher Slim Sallee. Ira “Texas” Townsend, no relation and seven years younger, also pitched for the Braves that day in the opening game.26 In his second game with the Boston Braves, Leo, “the southpaw, took Hugh] McQuillan’s place in the box, and not only pitched well, but started the big rally in [the] seventh with a single.”27 Townsend, “the former Mark Grey pitcher,” was lauded by an Ohio paper for earning the victory.28
The Sporting News took note of two Townsends being with the Braves: “He [right-hander Ira Townsend] is not to be confused with Leo Townsend, the southpaw pitcher who comes from the South Atlantic League. Both have been used in games here of late and the record keepers should see to it they get them straightened out, for both are likely to stick around awhile.”29
The next week’s edition also warned the “keepers of the record…to watch their P’s and Q’s, or rather their I’s and L’s” in reference to both Leo and Ira being on the Braves’ roster simultaneously.30
On September 11, Leo tossed four shutout relief innings against the Cincinnati Reds. The early reports were that the young lefty was pitching like “a real star as a relief chucker,” and a better deal than the $15,000 ponied up by the Cincinnati Reds for Lynn Brenton.31 Townsend lost his first decision, a 13-inning heartbreaker to St. Louis on September 18, giving up his first two runs over seven relief innings. Regardless, for the second straight week, The Sporting News commented, declaring “Lefty Townsend Makes Good.”32
On the last day of the Braves’ 1920 season, Townsend started against the New York Giants, pitching a complete-game four-hitter in the opener of a doubleheader. In a pitchers’ battle with Art Nehf, “the Boston rookie [did] the better work, but lost, 2-1.”33 By virtue of the Braves defeating the Giants in the nightcap, Brooklyn won the National League pennant.
Before 1921 spring training, Braves president George Washington Grant was bullish on his “promising rookie” southpaw Townsend.34 Leo was one of three left-handers in Boston’s camp in Galveston, Texas, along with Johnny Cooney and Garland Braxton.35 Expectations were high for Townsend, as further outlined by Grant: “Townsend is just the kind of left-hander he has been looking for to shove into the box in the sixth or seventh inning when another pitcher may be getting a little groggy and a bunch of left-handed hitters are coming to bat.”36
Townsend quipped in camp that he “holds the record for being with bad ball clubs.”37 He was listed in the Braves’ rookie directory as a 5’ 10”, 160-pound, 30-year-old lefthander with eight years of minor league experience.38 Leo was making good progress in training camp for new manager Fred Mitchell, with it being “practically conceded that Townsend will be a regular with the Braves this season.”39
However, a bad arm put him on the shelf the first month of the season.40 A report read: ““Lefty Leo” Townsend, who was going so well at the training camp, but who developed a sore arm when the club came North and has not been able to get into a championship game, appears to be coming around all right. For the past three or four days he has been able to work out quite a bit and is much encouraged by his improved condition.”41
Townsend finally returned on May 27 for the Braves against the Giants, as the first port-sider the Braves and manager Mitchell had employed, 33 games into the season. Alas, “Leo was not ready, and also had poor control.”42 He lasted only one-and-one-third innings, allowing four of the seven runs in the second inning, taking the defeat. In the second inning, “the Giants lit on him unmercifully, slamming everything he had to offer and about where they pleased.”43 A few days later, Townsend was released back to Charleston.44 His final major league career numbers ended up as two wins and three losses over 25 2/3 innings, with eight runs, 20 hits, and five walks allowed, with exactly one strikeout.45
By August, Charleston suspended Townsend because he “could not get his arm in shape.”46 He eventually recovered by September, winning a matchup with Columbia.47 Townsend returned to Charleston for 1922 spring training, but, unfortunately, this version of Leo was not well-received.48 He “vainly endeavored to stop the slaughter” in getting pounded by Charlotte in an April start.49 By month’s end he was pitching for a Treser semipro team in Pennsylvania.50 He was officially sold in May, along with pitcher Henry Thompson,51 by Charleston to the Richmond Colts of the Virginia League.52 But Townsend didn’t report to Richmond. Instead, he traveled to Kentucky, pitching for the Mt. Sterling Essex of the Class D Blue Grass League,53 He was “hit freely” in a 10-0 whitewashing at the hands of Maysville (Ohio). Townsend went 4-11 in 19 games for Mount Sterling (listed only as Townsend in Baseball-Reference). This was Townsend’s last professional season, finishing with an overall professional record of 93-88 over 243 games.
After moving back home to Mobile, Leo married a young lady named Mabel, three years his junior the Townsends did not have any children. Leo worked as a salesman for Rhodes-Perdue and later the Nathan Furniture Company in town, with Mabel working as a clerk for Turner Supply Company. Much later, in 1955, Townsend was picked by Alabama Governor James Folsom for the Mobile County Board of Equalization.54 He spent 20 years on the Equalization Board, having final judgement on tax assessments.55 Townsend was also elected into the Mobile Youth Baseball Hall of Fame, alongside dignitaries such as Henry Aaron, Eddie Stanky, and Milt Stock.56
Leo Townsend died on December 3, 1976, at the age of 84, in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, after a short illness.57 Governor George Wallace was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.58 Leo was survived by his wife Mabel and three nieces.59 Mabel assumed the final three years of his position on the Equalization Board.60
This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Norman Macht and fact-checked by Kevin Larkin.
In addition to the sources shown in the Notes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com, StatsCrew.com, and MyHeritage.com
1 John Simkin, “Leo Townsend,” Spartacus Educational online, https://spartacus-educational.com/USAtownsend.htm September 1997 (updated January 2020).
2 According to Baseball-Reference, Townsend was born in 1891. Social Security records say Townsend was born in 1892, while his war registration said 1893.
3 “Strong Team from Mobile to Play Here,” Pensacola (Florida) News Journal, May 7, 1912: 6.
4 “Manager Finn Will Have Strong Array,” Nashville Banner, March 17, 1913: 8.
5 “Townsend Sent to Pensacola,” Pensacola News Journal, April 1, 1913: 9.
6 “Selma and Snappers Split in Double Bill,” Pensacola News Journal, May 17, 1913: 7.
7 “Townsend Blanks Romans,” Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times, August 30, 1913: 2.
8 “Only Two Mobile Players Show Up,” Nashville Banner, March 11, 1914: 10:
9 “Whole Team Graduates,” Chattanooga Times, March 16, 1915: 10.
10 “Townsend Hold Pels Scoreless While Homer Wins Game, 2-0,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 2, 1914: 11.
11 “Townsend, a Mobile Boy, Honored by Mobile Fans,” Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, June 15, 1914: 7.
13 “Bris Lord’s 1914 Rookies,” Birmingham (Alabama) Age-Herald, June 28, 1914: 16.
14 “’Lefty’ Townsend Passes Walker and Now Leads Southern Pitchers,” Chattanooga Times, July 19, 1914: 32.
15 “Townsend Signs,” Atlanta Constitution, April 7, 1915: 11.
16 “Townsend’s Disability,” Journal and Tribune (Knoxville, Tennessee), August 1, 1915: 11.
17 “Pitcher Townsend Retires from Game,” (Nashville) Tennessean, February 27, 1916: 27.
18 “San Antonio Signs Townsend of Mobile,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 14, 1916: 16.
19 “O’Toole Case Recalled,” Brooklyn Eagle, March 7, 1920: 7.
20 “Pals Overwhelmed Spartanburg Bunch,” Charlotte (North Carolina) News, May 20, 1920: 12.
21 “Charleston Wins the Third from Starkmen,” Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, June 27, 1920: 17.
22 “Palagraphs,” Charleston Evening Post, August 26, 1920: 3.
23 “Rain Stops Game,” Bamberg (South Carolina) Herald, August 26, 1920:
24 J. Carter Latimer, “All State Ball Team Picked,” Watchman and Southron (Sumter, South Carolina), August 18, 1920: 6.
25 “Braves Buy Townsend,” Birmingham News, September 8, 1920: 22.
26 “Braves Drop a Pair of Games to Giants,” Boston Globe, September 9, 1920: 6.
27 “Fireworks Aplenty as Each Wins Game,” Boston Globe, September 10, 1920: 7.
28 “Townsend, Former Mark Grey Pitcher, Defeats the Reds,” Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), September 9, 1920: 14.
29 “Expert View from Bostonese on Reds,” The Sporting News, September 16, 1920: 1.
30 “Notes,” The Sporting News, September 23, 1920: 1.
31 “Braves’ $1500 Rookie May Outshine Reds’ $15,000 Purchase,” Cincinnati Post, September 15, 1920: 14.
32 “Stallings May Be Coaxed to Stay On,” The Sporting News, September 23, 1920: 1.
33 “Braves Kill Last Chance of Giants in 1920 Race,” Boston Globe, September 28, 1920: 7
34 “Still Plenty of Cunning in Chief Bender’s Right,” Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), December 31, 1920: 7.
35 “Boston Braves Expect to Get in First Section,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 31, 1921: 17.
36 “The Pepper Box,” Charlotte News, March 16, 1921: 10.
37 “Fred Mitchell Seems Perfectly Pleased with His New Ball Charges,” Brooklyn Eagle, March 31, 1921: 2.
38 “Rookie Directory: Braves,” Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette, April 4, 1921: 8.
39 “The Pepper Box,” Charlotte News, March 16, 1921: 10.
40 “Braves Hope to Get in a Game Today,” Boston Globe, May 7, 1921: 5.
41 “Bad Weather Again Halts Braves Game,” Boston Globe, May 15, 1921: 19.
42 “Close Decision at Plate Halts Braves,” Boston Globe, May 28, 1921: 9.
43 “Pinch Single by Earl Smith Downs Braves,” New York Tribune, May 28, 1921: 8.
44 “Charleston Gets Townsend,” Tampa (Florida) Tribune, June 3, 1921: 8.
45 Some reports claim that Townsend pitched the most innings ever in the history of the majors without recording a strikeout. However, Townsend recorded exactly one strikeout, that being St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Bert Shotton on September 16, 1920.
46 “Townsend Suspended,” Richford (Vermont) Journal and Gazette, August 19, 1921: 3.
47 “Recruits Kept Pals on Hustle,” Charlotte News, September 16, 1921: 14.
48 “3 Pals Stage First Workout,” Charlotte News, March 15, 1922: 16.
49 Eddie Brietz, “Webber Goes Great Bees Hit Hard and Win,” Charlotte News, April 19, 1922: 14.
50 “Turners Win Opener from Treser Team,” Pittsburgh Press, April 30, 1922: 29.
51 “Two Pal Pitchers,” Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle, May 10, 1922: 2.
52 “Notes,” Charlotte News, May 11, 1922: 16.
53 “Mt. Sterling 8, Studebackers 1,” Lexington (Kentucky) Leader, May 19, 1922: 5.
54 “Two Named to Mobile Board of Equalization,” Birmingham News, October 6, 1955: 73.
55 “Ex-Major Leaguer L. Townsend Dies,” Mobile Register, December 4, 1976: 6.
56 “Youth Baseball Dinner Saturday,” Mobile Register, February 29, 1976: 51.
57 “Ex-Major Leaguer L. Townsend Dies,” Mobile Register, December 4, 1976: 6.
58 “Townsend,” Mobile Register, December 7, 1976: 26.
59 “Townsend,” Mobile Register, December 6, 1976: 21.
60 “Mabel Townsend Takes Board Post,” Mobile Register, December 30, 1976: 11.
Why Princess Margaret Sacrificed Love for the Crown
At Elizabeth II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953, all eyes should have been on the new monarch. But someone else stole the show that afternoon: Princess Margaret. At the televised event, the queen’s sister picked a piece of lint from the lapel of Peter Townsend, a war hero who now served the royal family𠅊nd the intimate gesture sparked a royal scandal.
It wouldn’t be her last. From her dramatic almost-marriage to her very public divorce, Margaret’s tempestuous love life dominated the royal spotlight for years. The princess’s star-crossed romantic entanglements were the stuff of rumor, tabloid speculation and scandal—yet they played a critical role in modernizing royal love along the way.
Margaret’s relationship with Townsend began in the early 1950s. Worldly, beautiful and charming, she was intensely attracted to the handsome veteran. But Townsend was not considered an appropriate royal match. Though their affair was conducted in secret, the world soon learned that Group Captain Townsend had divorced his wife and proposed to Margaret𠅊nd that she had accepted.
At the time, divorce was considered a major scandal, and it was unthinkable for a royal to marry both a commoner and a divorced man. Since the Church of England looked down on the dissolution of marriage, Margaret—whose sister, the Queen Elizabeth, was the head of the church as part of her duties as head of state a considerable obstacle. If she married Townsend, it might give the appearance that the queen approved of divorce.
There was another problem: the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. The law—which had its roots in George III’s distaste for both of his brothers’ marriages to commoners—gave the monarch ultimate say over who married whom. Under the law, all descendants of George II needed royal permission to marry. If they did not receive it, they could marry after one year of waiting as long as both houses of Parliament approved.
Margaret needed her sister’s permission to marry Townsend. If she couldn’t get it, she could beg Parliament for the right to marry, but that would have caused a scandal even more dramatic than her affair with a divorced man.
Societal mores made the potential match distasteful. Family wounds𠅎lizabeth only ascended to the throne after her uncle abdicated to marry a divorced commoner—made the request seem outrageous. And these facts seemed to make it impossible for Margaret to marry Townsend. Elizabeth, about to tour the Commonwealth after her own coronation, asked her sister to wait. Meanwhile, Parliament and the public made it clear that they didn’t support the match.
But contrary to The Crown, which portrays Elizabeth as ultimately blocking the marriage for the sake of the monarchy, the real-life Elizabeth did come around to the idea. She even drew up a plan that would allow Margaret to marry Townsend and stay part of the family. As the BBCxplains, the compromise would have amended the Royal Marriages Act and essentially made it unnecessary for the queen to give her permission at all.
There was a catch, though: To marry Townsend under this plan, Margaret would have had to give up her right of ever succeeding to the throne and those of her children, too. It’s not clear if this is why Margaret eventually broke off her relationship with Townsend, but the scandalous near-marriage never occurred.
Princess Margaret, shortly before announcing that she would not marry Peter Townsend.
𠇏rom the romantic point of view, the episode is a sad disappointment,” wrote the New York Daily News of the incident. But Margaret’s next relationship—her 1960 marriage to the respected photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones—was just as romantic and, eventually, just as scandalous. The romance, kept secret until the engagement was announced, took the world by surprise. (According to friends, Margaret only decided to go through with the marriage when she learned that Townsend planned to remarry.)
On paper, Armstrong-Jones (named Lord Snowdon after the marriage) was a much more suitable match than Townsend. Though he was a commoner, he came from a family of respected artists and had never been divorced. But after their lavish wedding, the relationship turned disastrous. Though the princess and the commoner were seen as helping break down Britain’s strict class barriers, their private life soon became distant and troubled.
On the outside, the couple led a Swinging Sixties life filled with parties, glamorous friends and art. Inside, their relationship was crumbling. Adultery, arguments and overindulgence in alcohol and drugs strained their marriage. They were subject to overwhelming scrutiny from the public and the British press, which followed their every move.
Finally, things came to a head when photos of Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn, a man 17 years her junior, on vacation were published in a tabloid. Finally, Margaret admitted that her marriage had failed. It was what Snowdon’s biographer, Anne de Courcy,ꃊlled “the most serious marital drama in the royal family since the Abdication.”
Margaret couldn’t marry a divorced man, but she could become a divorced woman herself. In 1978 she became theਏirst senior member of the royal family to divorce in 77 years. But though she was mocked in the press and viciously tracked by reporters, Margaret’s divorce represented a more realistic take on love and marriage for the royal family. Since her marriage ended, other royals—most notably Charles and Diana—went their separate ways, too. As national divorce rates rose, Margaret showed the world that royal life is far from perfect.
Today, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 is no more, and only the first six people in line to the throne need to ask the reigning monarch for permission to marry. Though it’s not certain to what extent Margaret’s own famous love life affected Parliament’s adoption of the new Succession to the Crown Act, it is clear that Margaret’s life reflected changing times𠅊nd that her turbulent romances helped change British minds about both marriage and divorce.
The Ballad of Mr. Cub and Leo the Lip
It was one of the most intriguing matchups in baseball history. Ernie Banks and Leo Durocher–thrown together in the same clubhouse. Rarely have two more disparate characters been coupled outside of a lousy television sitcom. Smiling Ernie Banks, the perpetually glass-is-half-full line drive of sunshine a man so outrageously optimistic that he actually claimed the Cubs had a chance each spring when everyone else in the western hemisphere knew otherwise but a man unable to lift his team out of mediocrity, no matter how brilliantly he played. Leo Durocher, the consummate tough-talking, rule-bending, angle-playing wise guy, who never hesitated to break any person in his way a man summoned to Chicago to try to rescue a moribund franchise.
While Ernie was loved by millions and, except for a few ex-wives, liked by virtually everyone else, Leo was . . . well, I’m sure he must have once had a dog who acted like he liked him at dinner time.
Before he arrived in Chicago, Leo Durocher was already a baseball legend, an outsized caricature who dominated every scene by sheer force of personality. His baseball career had started with the Yankees of the late 1920s where as a hustling, under-talented shortstop, he famously had trouble getting along with Babe Ruth, who called him “the all-American out.” And he either did or did not steal the Babe’s watch, depending on whose version you’re willing to believe. As a manager Leo had taken over losing teams in Brooklyn and New York and turned both into pennant winners.
Possessing a voice with the commanding ring of a Marine drill sergeant and a snarl savage enough to give even the toughest of badasses pause, Leo could captivate a group of men like few others. Learning at an early age that yelling was the way for him to get the upper hand in life, he had an explosive temper that begged for anger management therapy.
Durocher routinely used every vile invective and slur against both his players and opponents. Jews were Kikes, Italians were Dagos, and Blacks were, well, called much worse. And according to the grammatical rules Leo preferred, the slurs were most often used as adjectives, surrounded by other less-than-endearing terms, such as when he often referred to pitcher Ken Holtzman–to his face and in front of teammates–as a “gutless Kike bastard.”
But it could not be accurately said that Leo was racist. He hated everyone equally–regardless of race, religion or belief–who stood between him and victory. He had taken a stand for Jackie Robinson during Jackie’s first spring with the Dodgers, telling a late-night meeting of the team, “I’ll play an elephant if he can do the job, and to make room for him I’ll send my own brother home.” With the Giants he had been a father figure to Willie Mays who adored him.
Leo never lacked for enthusiasm, especially when there was a microphone in his face or a photographer nearby. While he loved publicity in general, he hated media members personally. For their part writers uniformly despised the man, but loved the fact that he was in their city if nothing else, he was always good for easy copy.
As a player and manager Leo Durocher was a master of the dark arts of baseball. Flinging dirt in infielders faces, kicking balls out of their gloves, stealing signs, beanballs, intimidation, nothing was too much if it helped him win a game. He would say virtually anything from the dugout to give his team an edge. When he yelled to his pitcher from the dugout, “Stick one in his ear,” no one doubted that he meant it with all his heart. No fan of sportsmanship, Leo said “Show me a good loser in professional sports, and I’ll show you an idiot.” And, “I believe in rules. Sure I do, if there weren’t any rules, how could you break them?” He wanted “scratching, diving, hungry ballplayers who come to kill you,” on his team. He freely admitted that if his mother was rounding third with the winning run he would trip her—but just to show that he did have a heart, he added that he would pick the old lady up and brush her off afterwards.
But few men could get more out of a team than Leo Durocher. While he knew baseball and knew how to win, he was extremely hard on his players. For those who won his approval, who showed their toughness through fire, they were his guys for life, or until the next loss. Only a certain type of ballplayer, with a certain tough hide, could play for Leo Durocher. His past was littered with the carcasses of players for whom he had no use men he had broken. He loved letting his team know that no one’s job was secure, no matter the past. His favorite expression was to “back up the truck” as in loading up all the unwanted players and carting them away.
Brutally frank and decisive, if Leo ever had a doubt about anything he did, he never showed it. Confidence exuded from his pores and enveloped him like a bad cologne. He was absolutely certain deep in his heart that there was no man whom he couldn’t bluff out of a pot while holding a hand full of nothing and there was no dame he couldn’t talk out of her pants with a few well-chosen words and a fist full of charm.
Although Leo had not managed a baseball team since 1955 he had remained very much in the public eye by coaching, commentating on televised games and being a general celebrity. He was perhaps the only man who could boast of achieving the 1960s cultural trifecta of appearing on the Mr. Ed, Munsters and Beverly Hillbillies television shows (as himself of course). When Fred Flintstone was wooed by a no-nonsense big league manager named Leo Ferocious of the Boulder City Giants, no one doubted who the cartoon character represented.
Ernie Banks was in many ways the polar opposite of Leo Durocher, exactly the kind of nice guy Leo famously said finished last. While Leo spent a lifetime refining how to get what he wanted by climbing in faces and forcing uncomfortable situations, Ernie was a walking conflict-avoidance seminar. He was constitutionally, almost pathologically, unable to have a forceful face-to-face disagreement with another human being. Want to know the essence of Ernie Banks: a 1967 clubhouse encounter with teammate Ron Santo tells you all you need to know. Santo played with Banks for more than a decade and knew him as well as anyone, which is to say he didn’t have a clue what made the man tick. When the hot-headed Santo entered the clubhouse the day after a tough loss and flew into a tirade, Ernie calmly pleaded, “Don’t let the past influence the present.”
Santo turned on Banks and exploded, “What the hell’s wrong with you? You like losing?”
Ernie merely walked away while saying something about it being a lovely day—the fact that it was cloudy and drizzling at the time did not matter—and that it was time to “beat the Pirates, beat the Pirates.” That day, the Cubs did beat the Pirates, winning 8-4 and Ernie’s two doubles and Santo’s home run accounted for four RBIs.
Avoidance of conflict, avoidance of controversy, show the world only happy thoughts, put a positive spin on virtually everything this was the protective hard-shelled candy coating in which Ernie Banks had successfully encased himself. It was a philosophy born of a combination of the optimism of Ernie’s Negro League manager, Buck O’Neil, and the ultraconservative don’t-ever-show-anybody-what-you-really-think and, above all, don’t-stand-out, Ernie’s father preached as a way to survive the uncompromising Jim Crow life of Dallas in the 1930s and 1940s.
It was a seemingly simple aura of smiling optimism and it worked well for Ernie. But was it the real Ernie Banks? We’ll never know, because he never told. Even those closest to him were never able to penetrate the candy coating. Few people, if any, ever knew the true Ernie Banks.
And where Leo loved talking to the media about himself, Ernie could not be forced to talk about himself by any means. Unfailingly polite with the media, he would hold forth at length spouting his well-worn clichés and meaningless optimistic proclamations and at the end of a half hour, the writer would have absolutely nothing. Even when young Ernie was copping consecutive MVP awards in the late ‘50s, writers approaching him for a personal story would come away with only, “Yessir, yessir, quite an honor to be included with these guys. That Willie Mays, what a great player. And, my, Henry Aaron. What a fantastic year he had.”
By the mid-1960s Ernie had perfected a smiling two-step whenever a writer got too close: “Thank you, thank you, it’s a beautiful day for baseball here at the friendly confines,” he would say while walking the writer to the other side of the clubhouse. “And the guys you want to talk to are right here, Donnie Kessinger and Glenn Beckert. Two of the next stars. The best young double play combo in baseball.” And when the writer turned around, Ernie would have vanished. It was a polished, seemingly effortless, shtick and always left Ernie looking like a good guy, while both giving young players some exposure and saving Ernie from any truly prying questions.
By 1966 Ernie had been in Chicago a dozen years, the face of the franchise, not only a perennial All-Star but recognized as one of the game’s great gentlemen off the field. He never turned down a request for an autograph or a speaking engagement, often appearing gratis at Little League banquets and the like throughout the upper Midwest. He had a rare moral compass that refused to allow any public perception of trouble. Through all the losing years he never said a bad word about management. Ernie was the ultimate organization man for a team without organization. When he began to be referred to publicly as Mr. Cub in the early 1960s, no one disagreed. Banks had been one of baseball’s top hitters, hitting more home runs between 1955 and 1960 than anyone in the game. Although never out of shape, still retaining the thin frame that impossibly launched all those home runs, Ernie had not aged well. Chronic knee problems and a variety of other ailments had cut his production and forced a move from shortstop to first base in 1961. By 1966 Banks visibly hobbled at times on the field and in the dugout.
Leo Durocher, at 59, was still very much an energetic, dynamic, forceful, dominating personality when he was hired to manage the Cubs for the 1966 season. He was the alpha male of all he surveyed. Leo’s impact on the windy city was both immediate and seismic. The Cubs were fresh off four years of PK Wrigley’s ridiculous College of Coaches experiment and had not finished above 7 th place since 1959. “I’m not a nice guy,” Leo said at his Chicago unveiling in October 1965. In case anyone was wondering, he added, “I’m still the same SOB I always was.”
“Pitching, defense and speed, that’s the kind of ball club I like,” pronounced Durocher that day. “And that’s what I’m going to be working toward with the Cubs. Hit and run, bunt, steal. You can’t win with those big slow-footed guys even if they do hit one out of the park for you once in a while.” Initially Durocher said, “As for Banks, he comes with the franchise and I’m glad to have him on my side for a change.” But anyone with even remote knowledge of the game could see that Leo obviously had other plans for the slow-footed first baseman who could no longer run, bunt or steal.
Shortly after taking over the Giants in 1949, as part of his master plan that would produce two pennants and a world championship within five years, Leo had traded thirty-something year old All-Stars Johnny Mize and Walker Cooper–less than two years removed from combining for 86 home runs—peddling them to open space on the team for the kind of guys he liked. He wanted to do something similar in Chicago and there was one big unavoidable target: Mr. Banks.
Durocher initially talked of trading Banks to the Giants for Orlando Cepeda, but he quickly learned what every other manager, director of player personnel and general manager (whatever Wrigley’s title de jour for them was) had learned: the chances of PK Wrigley agreeing to any trade involving Ernie Banks depended entirely on the weather—just in case Hell did freeze over . . .
Since Leo could not trade Ernie, he did the next best thing: he began to hate him and plotted a way to shame him off the field. Leo was merciless in pointing out Banks’ deficiencies to both Ernie and anyone who would listen. He constantly harped on Ernie’s lack of speed and publicly called him a “rally killer.”
“Mr. Cub, my ass,” he told reporters. “I’ll give Mr. Cub $100 anytime he even attempts to steal second.” [editors note: for the record Ernie Banks stole 4 bases in 7 attempts in the 6 seasons he played for Leo it was never noted if Leo actually ponied up the $700].
Pitcher Fergie Jenkins later wrote, “One thing that drove Durocher nuts was that, at that point in Ernie’s career, when he was 35 or 36 years old, you didn’t have to be Einstein to know he wasn’t going to steal any bases. So Ernie took tiny leads off first base, like three inches. He wasn’t going to steal, and he sure as heck wasn’t going to let himself get picked off. Durocher screamed to the first-base coach, ‘Get him off! Get him off!’ Meaning he wanted him to make Ernie take a bigger lead so if someone got a hit he might make it to third base safely. That went on the whole year. The rest of us, sitting on the bench, watching and listening, just wanted to turn to Leo and say, ‘Give it a rest.’ But nobody did that. Ernie was just the greatest guy. He was a lot of fun to be with. He always talked when he was in the field. He was always bubbly and great to be around. Durocher seemed to be the only person on planet Earth who had trouble getting along with Ernie Banks.”
In Leo’s defense, inheriting an aging star is one of the least pleasant tasks for a new manager—a political and managerial quicksand for any polite leader concerned with social etiquette (see Stengel/DiMaggio). And Leo was never accused of politeness or social etiquette.
Also Leo loved to play amateur psychologist. No one had ever gotten on Banks before. Leo was making a statement to the entire team that no one was above reproach.
Others have hinted at more sinister motives: “He disliked Ernie from the go,” wrote longtime Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse, himself no great Durocher fan. “It was just that Ernie was too big a name in Chicago to suit Durocher.”
While Leo grudgingly conceded that Ernie Banks had been a great player in his time, “Unfortunately, his time wasn’t my time,” he later wrote. “He couldn’t run, he couldn’t field toward the end, he couldn’t even hit. . . . As a player, by the time I got there, there was nothing wrong with Ernie that two new knees wouldn’t have cured. He’d come up with men on the bases and if he hit a ground ball they could walk through the double play. . . . I’ve got to have somebody there who can play. Balls are going by there this far that should be outs or double plays. . . But I had to play him. Had to play the man or there would have been a revolution in the street. Ernie Banks owns Chicago.”
Leo was mystified at the goodwill Ernie had built up in the city and did not buy into his act. “How does he do it? You could say about Ernie that he never remembered a sign or forgot a newspaperman’s name. All he knew was, ‘Ho, let’s go. Ho, babydoobedoobedoo. It’s a wonderful day for a game in Chicago. Let’s play twooo.’ We’d get on the bus and he’d sit across from the writers. ‘A beaooootiful day for twoooo.’ It could be snowing outside, ‘Let’s play three.’”
Whatever the motive, the opportunity Leo hoped for arrived soon. In mid-May, 1966, with Banks hitting .188, the Cubs traded pitcher Ted Abernathy to the Braves for first baseman-outfielder Lee Thomas. “I’m going to him [Thomas] every chance to play regularly at first base,” Durocher announced to the press. “Ernie Banks hasn’t done it for me, so I’m going to give Lee every chance to show me.” Durocher made the peculiar move of shuffling Ron Santo to shortstop and putting Ernie at third base and Thomas at first—an ill-conceived experiment that weakened all three positions and lasted a mere four days. Then he benched Ernie and gave first base to Thomas outright.
But Thomas failed to cooperate with Leo’s plan. In early June, with Thomas hitting .200, Ernie was back as the regular first baseman and he launched an 8-game hitting streak. June 11, the old man legged out three triples in a game—all pokes to right field. But the slump returned. In early July Durocher announced that Banks was benched again—this time for powerful youngster John Boccabella, who had hit 30 homers in the minors in 1965. With the Cubs locked in the cellar, Durocher added, “The future of this team has to be with the young fellows.” The unmistakable message was that Banks was officially over the hill and finished.
Reporters wrote that Banks took the news with “Impeccably good grace. He has the unfailing gift of always saying the right thing.” Among the “right things” they quoted Ernie with saying was, “There comes a time in every player’s life when he must face up to this sort of thing. As we get older, we have to make way for the younger players. . . . I won’t say it doesn’t hurt because it definitely does. However, I simply have to adjust to it.”
But Boccabella failed to hit and once again, before the last shovel-full of dirt could be tossed on his grave, Ernie came back. From the All-Star game to August 11, over a five-week period, he hit .359 (37-103). He ended the season with a mediocre 15 homers, 75 RBIs and a .272 batting average for the last place, 59-103 Cubs.
All winter Leo said he was sticking with the youth movement, adding that Boccobella would be given a full shot at first. At one ceremony, Leo called Banks “Grandpa.” Liking the way it sounded, Leo used the term liberally throughout the winter.
And the offseason gave Leo time to think of a new strategy to deal with his unwanted aging star. February 28, 1967, Leo announced that Ernie Banks had been named to the Cubs’ coaching staff: “Banks will do a lot of playing for us, the only difference is that Ernie now will be able to teach our kids. He’ll have as much authority as any of the other four coaches.”
The move was a complete surprise, and Banks seemed more surprised than anyone else. It immediately led to open speculation and interpretation: was it was the beginning of the climb up the corporate ladder for Banks or was it a public relations move by Durocher to keep Banks on the bench. Durocher, sensing everyone’s suspicion, stated that this shouldn’t be construed in any way as a move to end Banks’ playing career. He added that Ernie still had a chance to fight off Boccabella for first base playing time. The tone left little doubt that the job appeared to be Boccabella’s to lose. For his part, Ernie smiled, noted that he would become just the fourth African-American major league coach (behind Buck O’Neil, Gene Baker and Junior Gilliam) and said, “It’s all very gratifying.”
Leo played Boccabella, Clarence Jones, Norm Gigon and Lee Thomas at first all through the spring, along with feeding rumors of other first base candidates being brought in by trades. Banks didn’t get any regular playing time until about 10 days before the exhibition season was over even as the mythical coaching duties never seemed to materialize.
While Ernie hit ropes in the batting cage, Leo acted like he didn’t notice, raving instead about the young prospects. When writers ventured that Banks was being ignored, Leo snarled, “Why don’t you knock off that Mr. Cub stuff? The guy’s wearing out. He can’t go on forever.”
It became a running gag in the press box, whenever Banks hit a home run or knocked in a key run: “Do you think Durocher will acknowledge that?”
Despite the near daily criticism and indications that he was through, outwardly Banks seemed exactly the same to observers. He never let on that it was anything other than another routine, glorious spring training in the sun. He showed up every day with a smile on his face, singing to pregame music, welcoming one and all to the park and cheering opposing teams through their calisthenics. Then he would get into the cage and flick line drives with his still-magnificent wrists.
Near the end of the spring, when Ernie was hitting .419, Leo conceded that the first base job probably belonged to him. Except for two second games of doubleheaders, Leo wrote “Banks” on the lineup card every game from April 28 to June 20. Ernie got off to his best first half since the MVP season of 1959 and made the All-Star team.
Leo Durocher delivered for the Cubs the way he had promised. Two decades of futility were laid to rest as the Cubs took over first place in July, 1967 for the first time since 1945. They finished the season in third place—their first time in the first division in 21 years. Ernie played in 151 games in 1967, finishing with 23 homers and 94 RBIs, second on the team to Santo’s 98 and second among league first basemen.
Reporters, eager for a good winter-time story, kept giving Banks chances to rub his success in Leo’s face, unmistakably teeing up leading questions. But Ernie steadfastly left the bat on his shoulder. In fact, in an act similar to happily digging through a pile of manure looking for a horse, he gave Leo credit for the good season. All that time on the bench in the spring, Ernie explained with a smile, had been the plan all along to allow him to get ready on his own, to take his time getting in shape. “That undoubtedly was a good break for me, because if I had tried to compete with the young fellows, I would have been struggling, really struggling. . . . [when the time to play came] I was ready.” It was an explanation Ernie repeated numerous times all through the fall and winter, leaving incredulous writers to question their sanity.
The pattern quieted the next two years as Ernie got off to hot starts and showed that, while he couldn’t run, he could still drive in teammates. In the notoriously tough pitcher’s year of 1968, Ernie was second in the league with 32 home runs and his hot hitting helped the Cubs jump out to a big lead in 1969 as he ended up with 106 RBIs.
By 1970, however, Ernie’s body was just about ready for the glue factory. His knees were so swollen and achy that some days he could barely walk. The final countdown is difficult with any aged star and Ernie’s was no less painful, for him or his manager. Their relationship deteriorated as a familiar pattern played out: Leo would watch Ernie limping through the clubhouse and ask the trainer who would tell him that Ernie couldn’t play and Leo would write him out of the lineup. Reporters would go to Ernie and he would say he felt fine. They would ask him why he didn’t play and Ernie would shrug and say, “The man says I play, I play.” They would then write that Durocher had benched Banks for no reason and fans would complain. Durocher felt that Ernie was betraying him with passive-aggressive behavior.
May 4, 1971 against the Mets, Ernie suffered the indignity all geriatric stars eventually face: he was removed for a pinch-hitter in a clutch situation. Teammates felt Leo humiliated Banks by allowing him to face Nolan Ryan three times, only to pinch-hit for him with right-handed batter Jim Hickman when lefty Ray Sadecki was on the mound in the eighth inning with men on first and third, trailing 2-1 . Ernie was in the ondeck circle when he unexpectedly saw the shadow of Hickman approaching. Hickman sheepishly told him, “I gotta hit for you.” Banks nodded without emotion, walked back, put his bat in the rack slowly and sat down on the bench—right next to Leo. He never said a word.
“Hickman told me later it was one of the toughest things he ever had to do,” wrote Brickhouse.
Ernie retired as a player after the 1971 season, but owner Wrigley kept him on the Cubs as a coach for 1972, against Leo’s wishes. By that time the Cubs’ pennant chances were in sharp decline. As the team struggled, amid speculation that Leo would be replaced, tempers flared, leading to a famous clubhouse explosion involving Leo, Milt Pappas, Joe Pepitone and Ron Santo. Afterwards Leo stormed out and threatened to quit. Ernie and coach Joey Amalfitano went to his office and tried to talk Durocher into staying. According to Durocher, Ernie told him, “Please Leo, don’t quit. We want you here. We need you. Don’t go doing something you might regret.”
Soon after, on September 3, PK Wrigley ran a full page ad in a Chicago paper backing Durocher. He concluded with the immortal line: “P.S. If only we could find more team players like Ernie Banks.”
Within two years Leo and Ernie were both gone from the Cubs clubhouse.
It is insightful to look at their words in the years after their time together. They both stayed remarkably true to character. Ernie never said a bad word about Leo and Leo, well, they didn’t call him Leo the Lip because of his trumpet-playing ability.
Over the next four decades numerous interviewers gave Ernie a chance to trash Leo. Or at least take a few good pokes. He never did. Usually he changed the subject or offered only bland statements. Ernie knew exactly what everyone else said and thought, but he pretended not to. When cornered, he only gave them: “I learned long ago that when you say derogatory things about people it stays with you. Everybody remembers it, especially if it’s written. You can’t retract those things. Of course you have those feelings. . . . but suppose that tomorrow you feel he’s a nice guy again.”
In Banks’ 1971 autobiography the chapter dealing with the late ‘60s was titled, “Life With Leo.” While the title of the chapter may have given readers hope of learning his true thoughts, in keeping with the entirely vanilla tone of the book, there were exactly zero negative comments. Ernie credited “Leo’s leadership” with helping the Cubs become a winner. “Leo is unlike any other manager I’ve played for,” he stated. But he offered no specifics. Instead there were generic statements such as “A bark now, a good laugh a little later. He does it to keep us on our toes,” and “Leo can build a players’ morale like no one else.” He credited “Leo’s fine head planning and plotting for the future.” There was absolutely nothing about what “Life with Leo” was really like.
In 1977 Jet magazine offered an article with the leading title, “Banks Finally Tells of Durocher’s Many Insults.” Actually in the article, Banks told very little. The article summed up the many insults and included quotes from others, but Banks himself said nothing of substance.
In his old age, Ernie would add his own altered reality: “It was misinterpreted that Leo disliked me. He made my life better, he made me a better player,” and “Leo wasn’t jealous of me. I think he was just trying to push me. You know, when you’re in the latter stages of a career like I was, sometimes you get lackadaisical. I understood what he was trying to do.”
In 2006, the 71-year-old Banks finally allowed that life with Leo was a bit tough. Even then he quickly added, “As hard as he [Durocher] was on me, I tried to treat him with kindness, always talked to him, on the lane, in the dugout.”
Of course, Leo was much less reserved, and much more nasty. In his book “Nice Guys Finish Last” he devoted an entire chapter to Ernie. It was not a nice chapter. He took care to tarnish both Ernie Banks the player and the myth. He even took swipes at Ernie’s book, writing “All the writers in the country rushed to write what a great book it was, and all of them said in private, ‘If he wanted to write a book, with all the goodwill he has going for him, why didn’t he get himself a writer?’ I don’t know why it is, but where Ernie is concerned everybody is always ready to fall over and play dead.” [In Leo’s defense, the criticism of Ernie’s co-writer, Jim Enright, was entirely valid—and it takes only a reading a few pages to agree].
Years later, Leo Durocher had a change of heart, perhaps surgically induced. In 1983 a very contrite 78-year-old Leo, recovering from a recent open heart procedure, perhaps seeing his own mortality at last, spoke at a Cubs reunion and tearfully apologized to the team in general and Ernie Banks specifically for how he had behaved.
Leo passed away in 1991 at the age of 86, Ernie in 2015 at 84. It’s nice to think that they are now finally happy together in a better place:
Midland Remembers Joseph Townsend, Sr. and his Descendants Part I
Pictured are members of the Townsend family. In the back row are Sherry Townsend Cummings Jacobs and her brother Terry. In the front row are Ben Cummings, son of Sherry and beside him is his son Joseph Cummings. All four are direct descendants of Joseph Townsend Sr. who came to The Forks in 1842. (Photo Provided)
In January 2021, we featured two First Families of Midland, Henry White and his descendants and Samuel Hubbell and his descendants. For February, we are featuring Joseph Townsend, Sr. and his descendants in Part I and Part II will be a short history of names who made The Forks into the City of Midland.
In 1842, Joseph Townsend, Sr. with his wife, Polly Cronkright, and children, settled in &ldquoThe Forks&rdquo in the Midland Territory.
Born in Genesee County, New York State, in 1788, Joseph Townsend, Sr. married Polly Cronkright in 1820. They had 11 children. A cryptic note in the genealogy reads: &ldquoThree survived.&rdquo Thomas K. Townsend was born in 1824 in New York. Henry Townsend was born in 1832 in New York. A total of 10 children were born in New York and shortly after Henry&rsquos birth, Joseph Townsend and family members left New York state for the Midwest. Teams of oxen pulled wagons loaded with people and belongings. They traveled north to Lake Erie and then turned west and traveled until they reached the village of Saginaw.
Camping there, they purchased supplies for their trip to what was called &ldquoThe Forks.&rdquo Now they had to cut their own trail through the forests until they reached the area later known as LaPorte. Log cabins were built as well as a flat-bottomed scow to be used for traveling on the river to get supplies. The scow could float down the river in one day, but the return upstream took two or three days with the men pushing the scow with long poles.
It was here in 1834 that Joseph and Polly had their last child, a son they named Joseph Townsend Jr.
Joseph Townsend Sr. next decided to leave the LaPorte area and settle at &ldquoThe Forks.&rdquo It was 1842 when the Townsend family reached the area that would soon become the Village of Midland City. Since there were no bridges in the area, wagons pulled by oxen had to ford the streams, hoping that the wagons wouldn&rsquot tip over and dump everything in the water. Once &ldquoThe Forks&rdquo was reached, the building of log cabins and another scow for getting supplies began again.
Joseph Townsend Jr. is credited with building the first frame house in the Village of Midland City in 1856. He was 22 years old at the time. He married Evaline Patterson Feb. 26, 1856. She was the daughter of Henry and Harriet Patterson. Charles Fitzhugh Esquire performed the ceremony.
In 1868, Joseph Jr. built a second frame house near the first house. Joseph and Evaline had 11 children: Cora, Emoline, Harriet, Jacob, Angelina, Ethel, Chester, Cornelia, Ianthia, Sophronia and Geneva. Out of the 11 children, five died: Cora, Emoline, Jacob, Ethel and Cornelia. They were buried in the cemetery on West Main.
A record of the Townsend family burials is listed in the genealogy. The first cemetery in the Village of Midland City was on West Main, and Charles Fitzhugh donated the property. Later the Midland Municipal Cemetery was established on Orchard Drive in 1883. The bodies in the West Main cemetery were moved to the new cemetery, and Mr. Fitzhugh donated the plot of land to the city of Midland, and it was named Revere Park.
Section H, Lot 52 in the first Midland cemetery on West Main:
1. Grave Joseph Townsend, Sr. 1788-1865 (body moved)
2. Grave Jacob E. Townsend 1864 &ndash 1865 (body moved)
3. Grave Polly Townsend 1789 &ndash 1881
4. Grave Joseph C Townsend, Jr. 1834 &ndash 1890
5. Grave Evaline Townsend 1834 - 1916
Joseph Townsend Jr. had a reputation for stories about bears and deer he had met and vanquished, but his list of accomplishments exceeds his prowess as a hunter. He was proud to be a radical Republican, a notary public, and the county coroner. The position of Superintendent of The Poor was held for 14 years. He was a member of the Board of Charities, a member of the Masons and acting Constable. He also owned and operated a dray business, hauling and delivering goods throughout the area, including supplies for Herbert Henry Dow to a grist mill where Dow began his first experiments with brine.
Chester Townsend, the surviving son of Joseph and Evaline, was born on March 16, 1869. On Nov. 11, 1889, he married Hannah Reynolds. Their first two children were Joseph born in 1890 and Beatrice born in 1893. Joseph died in 1892.
Looking for work, Chester and Hannah followed her folks, Benjamin and Elizabeth Reynolds, to Whiting, Indiana where he got a job with Standard Oil. They had Arthur (1896), Lloyd (1900) and Leo (1903) while in Whiting. In 1905, the Chester Townsend family moved back to Midland, and he worked for The Dow Chemical Company until his death in 1909. Once back in Midland, Chester and Hannah had two more children, Leila born in 1906 and Lester (Roy) born on April 12, 1909.
Hannah had been a semi-invalid for several years suffering from congestive heart failure, but it would be Chester&rsquos death in 1909 that came first. He contracted typhoid fever which weakened him, and he then fell ill with pneumonia and passed away on Sept. 24, 1909. Hannah found herself a widow with six children to care for. Beatrice was 16. Arthur was 13. Lloyd was 9. Leo was 6, Leila was 3. Their last child, Lester (Roy), was just 5 months old.
Leo contracted typhoid fever from his father and later had pneumonia and other childhood diseases. He went to live with his mother&rsquos parents, Benjamin and Elizabeth Reynolds. Leo&rsquos grandmothers, Evaline Townsend and Elizabeth Reynolds, kept him occupied during his long convalescence with stories about his ancestors.
He grew up in his grandparents&rsquo home and as a young man, he found a job enabling him to support himself and his grandmother Elizabeth Reynolds. In 1926, he married Hester Wolfley, and they had four children. Leo retired from The Dow Chemical Company in 1962 and passed away in 1983.
It was Leo Norman Townsend who researched the rich Townsend genealogy, giving his family the proud distinction of being one of the First Families of Midland County.
Midland Remembers, penned by Midland writer Virginia Florey, is published on the first and third Wednesday of each month in the Midland Daily News.
Carpe Diem, Illinois
Homeschooling, or, as it&aposs called in Oakley&aposs novel, CARPE DIEM, ILLINOIS, unschooling, is the central issue that consumes the characters and drives the plot of this entertaining story.
Beginning with a suspicious traffic "accident," the story unfolds quickly, and soon readers are immersed in the unusual life of those who live in the small, Illinois town of Carpe Diem where there are no schools at all. The author, through her characters&apos dialog, makes it quite clear that "unschooling" is not the
Homeschooling, or, as it's called in Oakley's novel, CARPE DIEM, ILLINOIS, unschooling, is the central issue that consumes the characters and drives the plot of this entertaining story.
Beginning with a suspicious traffic "accident," the story unfolds quickly, and soon readers are immersed in the unusual life of those who live in the small, Illinois town of Carpe Diem where there are no schools at all. The author, through her characters' dialog, makes it quite clear that "unschooling" is not the normal type of homeschooling. Children in Carpe Diem are free to grow and learn from the world around them, in a natural manner similar to the way toddlers learn to toddle and to talk.
The book's central character, Leo Townsend,is a reporter from Chicago who is assigned to write a story about this strange town. He soon finds himself in the middle of a mess of politics and criminal activities that threaten to drag him down even further than he's already sunk when the novel begins.
Much of the plot's forward momentum is carried in the dialog, lending a screenplay feel to the story. This is a four-star read for teenagers and adults who are curious about alternative education, small towns, and Illinois politics. The author shows potential, and it'll be interesting to see what she chooses for her reporter character's next assignment. . more
I&aposm a longtime fan of John Dewey and the progressive education movement as well as the revival of progressive educational experiments in the 60s and early to mid-70s. I visited an American Summerhill on an island outside Minneapolis, subscribed to periodicals like This Magazine Is About Schools, read Holt and Freire, and, with my partner, tried to start an experimental college. We wanted to create the Aldo Leopoldo School of Environmental Policy Studies in our big barn! .
I didn&apost know much about I'm a longtime fan of John Dewey and the progressive education movement as well as the revival of progressive educational experiments in the 60s and early to mid-70s. I visited an American Summerhill on an island outside Minneapolis, subscribed to periodicals like This Magazine Is About Schools, read Holt and Freire, and, with my partner, tried to start an experimental college. We wanted to create the Aldo Leopoldo School of Environmental Policy Studies in our big barn! .
I didn't know much about home schooling then but I was all for small group education. I hadn't ever heard of unschooling then but am downright ecstatic to know about it. It is brilliantly explored and explained in Carpe Diem Illinois. I am grateful to this book for bringing back to the realm of at least modest public discourse the idea of exploration as the purpose of education .. Of life, really. The story is fine, the characters worth knowing, the writing competent and sometimes wonderful. Thank you,
Unschooling is a new concept for me so I was fascinated by the topic. I felt Ms. Oakley presented the pros and cons of unschooling in a balanced, non-preachy manner, which to me is tough to do as an author. I thought her teen characters were believable and unique, although the unschooled kids seemed almost too good to be true. Surely there must be a few unschooled kids who abuse the system and waste their unsupervised time with video games, hanging out, or "getting into trouble."
Leo Townsend has Unschooling is a new concept for me so I was fascinated by the topic. I felt Ms. Oakley presented the pros and cons of unschooling in a balanced, non-preachy manner, which to me is tough to do as an author. I thought her teen characters were believable and unique, although the unschooled kids seemed almost too good to be true. Surely there must be a few unschooled kids who abuse the system and waste their unsupervised time with video games, hanging out, or "getting into trouble."
Leo Townsend has potential as a main character, but I thought he was sketched rather than fully drawn. I never quite got a feel for where he's coming from, how serious his drinking and agoraphobia problems are, etc. I expect he'll be fleshed out in future books.
A very good debut novel. Congratulations, Ms. Oakley. . more
This book was amazing! Kristin Oakley created such a great story filed with suspense and mystery, it was addicting and I got through it really quickly because I couldn&apost put it down.
The entire concept of the story surrounds Carpe Diem, a town whose children are "unschooled". Now I&aposve heard of homeschooling, but before this book I&aposd never heard of the term unschooling. I totally learned something new reading this book, and I loved it! The plot was fast paced and interesting, the characters were a This book was amazing! Kristin Oakley created such a great story filed with suspense and mystery, it was addicting and I got through it really quickly because I couldn't put it down.
The entire concept of the story surrounds Carpe Diem, a town whose children are "unschooled". Now I've heard of homeschooling, but before this book I'd never heard of the term unschooling. I totally learned something new reading this book, and I loved it! The plot was fast paced and interesting, the characters were amazing and very detailed, and the whole explanation of unschooling throughout the book really sold me on the concept and I'd love to read up more on it. There were some great twists and turns throughout that I didn't see coming, and a few I did. It kept me on my toes and in some parts made me anxious to see what would happen on the next page. It was just an all around great read.
I loved the characters in this book. I think my favorite character was Quinn. She was quirky, and interesting, and I loved the relationship she built with Tali and Leo. Leo was a great character. He's a journalist after a story, but he realizes that he loves the town and people of Carpe Diem and will do whatever it takes to help them out. Tali was great too. All around there were just some amazing main and secondary characters in this story, and that is one of the biggest things I look at in books, my connection to the characters, and this book definitely delivered!
Check out this book, I highly recommend it!
I received a copy of this book from the author. . more
I received a copy of this book through the goodreads giveaway in exchange for a review.
Kristin A. Oakley’s new novel Carpe Diem, Illinois (The Leo Townsend Series, #1) starts off slow and steady building up to an explosive ending. The main character, Leo Townsend is a Chicago Examiner investigative journalist who is down on his luck and thrown a dog-bone assignment on unschooling homeschool education by his newspaper editor. Leo’s about to face a shit storm of a conspiracy featuring children, mu I received a copy of this book through the goodreads giveaway in exchange for a review.
Kristin A. Oakley’s new novel Carpe Diem, Illinois (The Leo Townsend Series, #1) starts off slow and steady building up to an explosive ending. The main character, Leo Townsend is a Chicago Examiner investigative journalist who is down on his luck and thrown a dog-bone assignment on unschooling homeschool education by his newspaper editor. Leo’s about to face a shit storm of a conspiracy featuring children, murder, dirty politicians, and teachers in Carpe Diem – a quaint little town with quirky down home folks and great food. Who would of thought there would be such a mystery about homeschooling? I sure didn’t – but I would have to say - I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to the next book in the series. This book was a pleasure to read and you'll want to put it on your summer list of books to read at the beach. . more
Kristin Oakley ’83, JD’86
From the author:
For decades, the small town of Carpe Diem, Illinois has quietly unschooled its children, eschewing tests and classrooms for real-life experiences. Now, long-smoldering political feuds and deep personal secrets threaten to explode. When her mother is hospitalized in Carpe Diem after an auto accident, teenager Tali Shaw, the daughter of a powerful state senator, finds herself at the heart of a vicious conspiracy to bring Carpe Diem down. Can prize-win Kristin Oakley ’83, JD’86
From the author:
For decades, the small town of Carpe Diem, Illinois has quietly unschooled its children, eschewing tests and classrooms for real-life experiences. Now, long-smoldering political feuds and deep personal secrets threaten to explode. When her mother is hospitalized in Carpe Diem after an auto accident, teenager Tali Shaw, the daughter of a powerful state senator, finds herself at the heart of a vicious conspiracy to bring Carpe Diem down. Can prize-winning Chicago Examiner reporter Leo Townsend overcome his own demons and expose those behind the scheme before it's too late? And when the truth is finally revealed, can Carpe Diem ever be the same?
Carpe Diem, Illinois is the winner of the 2014 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award for non-traditionally published fiction. . more
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Leo Townsend 1920 Game by Game Batting Logs
Leo Townsend 1920 Game by Game Batting Logs
Did you know that Leo Townsend appeared in 5 games at home, had 4 at-bats, drove in 0 runs, scored 1 times, had 1 hits (0 doubles / 0 triples / 0 home runs), walked 1 times (0 intentional), struck out 2 times, was hit by a pitcher 0 times, sacrificed 0 times (0 hits & 0 flies), and finished at home with a .25 batting average, .4 on base percentage and .25 slugging average?
On the road, Leo Townsend appeared in 2 games, had 2 at-bats, drove in 0 runs, scored 0 times, had 0 hits (0 doubles / 0 triples / 0 home runs), walked 0 times (0 intentional), struck out 1 times, was hit by a pitcher 0 times, sacrificed 1 times (1 hits & 0 flies), and finished at home with a batting average, on base percentage and slugging average?
Are you a Leo Townsend fan? Visit his page for comprehensive biographical data, year-by-year hitting stats, detailed fielding stats, pitching stats (where applicable), cumulative career totals for all stats, uniform numbers worn, salary data and other factual items-of-interest.
Leo was born on June 23, 1937 and passed away on Monday, February 4, 2019.
Leo was a resident of high, Texas at the time of passing.
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History to Expand ‘That Built’ Franchise With 3 More Spinoffs, Rebrands ‘The Men Who Built America’
The History Channel is building out its popular “That Built” franchise with three more spinoffs: “The Machines That Built America,” “The Toys That Built America” and “The Engineering That Built the World.”
It has also ordered a new batch of “The Men Who Built America” episodes, though the cable channel has rebranded that one to be the gender-neutral “The Titans That Built America.” (The five “Titans” being profiled in this installment are still all men, however.)
With these new spinoffs, another in development and the currently airing Season 2 of “The Food That Built America,” the franchise now boasts six series.
“The Titans that Built America,” executive produced by Appian Way Productions’ Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson and Stephen David Entertainment, will air across three consecutive nights beginning on Monday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
The updated “Men Who Built America” will detail the rivalry of the next generation of American titans: Henry Ford, JP Morgan Jr., William Chrysler, William Boeing and Pierre DuPont, who fought each other and FDR to build billion-dollar empires in automobiles, airplanes, arms and skyscrapers only to come together to defeat Adolf Hitler in World War II.
Below are the details of the new “That Built” series, all in History Channel’s own words.
“The Titans That Built America”
Airs three consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
“The Titans That Built America” is a three-night miniseries event that chronicles the incredible rise and fierce rivalries of industrial heavy hitters William Boeing, Walter Chrysler, JP Morgan Jr, and Pierre Du Pont. The ruthless, innovative and cunning titans battled each other — and FDR — to create entirely new industries at a time when the country was in absolute peril. The Great Depression ravaged not only the economy, but also the American way of life. Out of that rubble, this new age of robber barons emerges to once again help lift America to new heights. From revolutionizing the automobile and erecting monuments and skyscrapers, to conquering human flight and fueling the American victory in World War II, they show that fortune favors the bold and together they not only resurrect the nation in a time of need, but ultimately band together to help defeat our country’s greatest enemy.
“The Titans That Built America” is produced for The History Channel by Stephen David Entertainment, a Banijay Group Company. Stephen David, Tim Kelly and Joey Allen serve as executive producers for Stephen David Entertainment. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson serve as executive producers for Appian Way Productions. Phillip Watson serves as co-executive producer. Eli Lehrer, Mary E. Donahue and Zachary Behr are executive producers for The History Channel.
“The Toys That Built America”
Four one-hour episodes
Against the backdrop of major events in American history like the Civil War and the Great Depression, “The Toys that Built America” shares a different story — one that brings new products and nostalgic toys to the forefront as driving forces behind untold cultural and economic shifts. The four-part docuseries showcases visionaries such as the Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley and Ruth Handler who transformed a small toy company into the billion-dollar empire now known as Mattel. It reveals the little-known stories behind ground-breaking innovations like the Frisbee, and accidental discoveries like how the Slinky was created. Additionally, the docuseries unveils competitive rivalries between iconic brands that changed the fabric of our nation forever. Blending dramatic reenactments and archival footage with interviews from experts, biographers, and others, “The Toys That Built America” brings to life the surprising tales of the men and women who created some of America’s most beloved and enduring toys including Silly Putty, Monopoly, Barbie, G.I. Joe, and other famous classics.
“The Toys That Built America” (w.t.) is produced for The History Channel by the Six West Media group. Steve Ascher, Kristy Sabat and Matthew Pearl serve as executive producers for the Six West Media group. Jim Pasquarella and Mary E. Donahue serve as executive producers for The History Channel.
“The Machines That Built America”
(Eight one-hour episodes)
TV. Radio. Phones. Airplanes. Motorcycles. Tractors. Home Appliances. Power Tools. These are “Machines That Built America.” This docuseries reveals the surprising stories and rivalries behind the ground-breaking innovations that turned America into a superpower. Blending dramatic reenactments and archival footage with interviews from experts, biographers, and others, “The Machines That Built America” brings to life some of America’s most storied inventors: Nikola Tesla, William Harley, Alexander Graham Bell, Duncan Black, Alonzo Decker, and many more. In eight episodes, viewers will meet these larger-than-life characters, inhabit their rivalries, and ride the rollercoaster of triumph and failure as they search for a breakthrough that will change humanity.
“The Machines That Built America” (w.t.) is produced for The History Channel by the Six West Media group. Steve Ascher, Kristy Sabat and Matthew Pearl serve as executive producers for the Six West Media group. Zachary Behr and Mary E. Donahue serve as executive producers for The History Channel.
“The Engineering That Built the World”
(Eight one-hour episodes)
The Golden Gate Bridge. The Panama Canal. The Transcontinental Railroad. Iconic structures that have shaped and defined our nation and our world. “The Engineering That Built the World” tells the stories of the brilliant visionaries behind the most epic builds of the past two centuries. Against insurmountable challenges, these are the unknown tales of rivalries, egos, backdoor politics and the brilliant innovations behind iconic feats of engineering that made the future possible.